Thursday, December 05, 2019

“Why, It’s Old Fezziwig!” | A Christmas Carol: The Graphic Novel (2008)

The Fezziwig scene gets five pages in Classical Comics' version by Sean Michael Wilson and Mike Collins, so there are a lot of details included that were missing from Classics Illustrated and Marvel's version. The first panel inside the warehouse has Scrooge and the Ghost looking up at Fezziwig from the floor below, so his desk is pretty high up there. And then later we see Fezziwig hopping down from it. He's wearing a wig, but it's not a Welsh wig and it's not powdered white either. It does look old-fashioned though. And Fezziwig is pleasantly plump.

Young Scrooge and Dick Wilkins look like preteens in this version, which isn't something I'd considered as a possibility. They're apprentices, so it makes sense; I'm just used to so many versions introducing Belle as a love interest at this point, so Scrooge is usually at romancing age: In his late teens or early twenties.

Scrooge refers to Dick as "poor Dick" and follows up with a "dear, dear," which is right out of Dickens. I didn't call attention to it when I reviewed Dickens' text, but "poor Dick" makes it sound like maybe something bad happened to young Mr Wilkins. Hard times or an untimely death? I don't think we ever find out, but Scrooge clearly feels sorry for his former friend. He also mentions that Dick "was very much attached to me," implying that maybe Scrooge didn't reciprocate Dick's attachment or appreciate the boy as much as Scrooge now feels he should have. It's another sign of growth, which is characteristic of Wilson and Collins' version. Their Scrooge is well on his way to becoming a better person.

Fezziwig calls for the boys to help close up the shop and clear away furniture for the party. And there's a panel showing them putting up the removable shutters. Another smaller panel has Young Scrooge sweeping up as Dick carries away a chair. And then the guests arrive.

There's a page-and-a-half dedicated just to dancing and fiddling and looking at food. The fiddler is never explicitly shown sitting at Fezziwig's desk, but there are a couple of close-up panels where he stops to mop his brow and then starts fiddling again, and behind him you can see the same bookshelf that was behind Fezziwig when he was at the desk. I like the attention to detail. The fiddler could have been stationed anywhere the way the panels are framed, but clearly Wilson and Collins are working to be as faithful as possible.

The party itself has no dialogue (except for some general merrymaking sound effects: "hurrah!" "whoop!" "hoho!" etc.) or even narrative text, so if you're not familiar with the story you don't know who everyone is. I spotted at least a couple of Fezziwig's daughters, but I didn't see any of their suitors and there's no way you'd know that any of the guests are people who've been marginalized by the rest of society. These just seem to be Fezziwig's friends and family.

Young Scrooge does have a dance partner in one panel, but she's not named and her hair appears to be a different shade from Belle's, once Belle appears in the following scene. I imagine that Scrooge's dance partner is just someone at the party - maybe even one of Fezziwig's daughters - and not someone he has a particular attachment to.

The narrative text reappears after the party to explain what Old Scrooge has been feeling during all of this (using Dickens' words, of course). And it fits with the expressions we've seen on Scrooge during the scene. He's wide-eyed and smiling; thoroughly taken in by the whole experience. And though there's no scene of Young Scrooge and Dick praising Fezziwig after the party, Old Scrooge of course gets to defend Fezziwig to the Ghost. And he looks sorrowfully thoughtful in the last panel as he expresses his desire to talk to Bob Cratchit just then.

1 comment:

Caffeinated Joe said...

Glad they get so much of the story into their adaptation. I know we never really know what happened to Dick, but I began to wonder. Maybe whatever became of him is something Scrooge is recalling, silently, and realizing maybe he could have done something to help his old friend. Speculation, but helps to see how being forced to see his true past changes him.


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